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In first since 2013, EU set to sanction Iranians for rights abuses – report

European diplomats quoted by Reuters deny any link between the planned sanctions and efforts to revive nuclear talks

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell shake hands prior to their meeting in Tehran, Iran, February 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, and European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell shake hands prior to their meeting in Tehran, Iran, February 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

The European Union is expected to sanction a number of Iranians for alleged human rights abuses for the first time since 2013, according to a report Tuesday.

Quoting three EU diplomats, Reuters said the sanctions are set to be agreed upon Wednesday and will include travel bans and asset freezes on individuals.

It is unclear how many Iranians will be blacklisted, but the report said the names of those sanctioned will be released next week, when the measures take effect.

The diplomats said the EU will also review the sanctions it has in place on over 80 Iranians for alleged rights violations, which have been renewed annually since 2011.

Asked about the timing of the move, one of the diplomats said the EU was looking to get tougher on rights abuses.

“Those responsible for serious rights violations must know there are consequences,” the diplomat said.

The EU has not sanctioned any Iranians for human rights violations since 2013, when an interim deal on Iran’s nuclear program was reached, despite allegations of major abuses, such as those detailed in a UN report earlier this month.

The diplomats denied any link between the planned sanctions and efforts to revive the 2015 accord limiting Iran’s nuclear program, which US President Joe Biden is seeking to rejoin after his predecessor Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. The EU has been a vocal supporter of a US return to the agreement.

Earlier Tuesday, Iran rejected a reported US proposal to offer some sanctions relief if stops work on advanced centrifuges and enriching uranium to 20 percent, in violation of the nuclear pact.

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